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Open Access Lack of Trypanosoma cruzi Infection in Urban Roof Rats (Rattus rattus) at a Texas Facility Housing Naturally Infected Nonhuman Primates

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The protozoan parasite Trypanosoma cruzi causes Chagas disease, uses kissing bugs as a vector, and is maintained in nature by a variety of wildlife reservoirs. Many natural cases of Chagas disease have been reported in NHP at facilities across the southern United States, where infected vectors and wildlife occur. Infection of NHP with T. cruzi can diminish their value as research models and lead to health problems and death. Identifying the modes of transmission and role of wildlife reservoirs in these facilities is therefore critical to guide interventions to reduce transmission. Here we investigated the role of roof rats (Rattus rattus), the most abundant nuisance species at a primate facility in San Antonio, in the maintenance and transmission of T. cruzi. The hearts and blood from the carcasses of the 145 rats collected underwent 2 independent PCR assays for detection of T. cruzi and other trypanosomes. The 145 hearts and 61 blood samples were all negative for T. cruzi. This population sample of 145 subjects would allow the detection of disease prevalence of 0.020 with a confidence level of 95%. The limited active vector surveillance efforts by our team combined with passive surveillance by facility personnel yielded no kissing bugs during the study period. Our results suggest that roof rats are unlikely to be important local reservoirs of T. cruzi at this facility. Further investigation of transmission dynamics across multiple years and more comprehensive vector surveillance is warranted.

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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas 2: Southwest National Primate Research Center, Texas Biomedical Research Institute, San Antonio, Texas 3: Southwest National Primate Research Center, Texas Biomedical Research Institute, San Antonio, South Texas Diabetes and Obesity Institute, The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, Brownsville–Harlingen–Edinburg, Texas 4: College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas;, Email: [email protected]

Publication date: January 1, 2017

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  • The Journal of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (JAALAS) serves as an official communication vehicle for the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS). The journal includes a section of refereed articles and a section of AALAS association news. The mission of the refereed section of the journal is to disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed information on animal biology, technology, facility operations, management, and compliance as relevant to the AALAS membership. JAALAS accepts research reports (data-based) or scholarly reports (literature-based), with the caveat that all articles, including solicited manuscripts, must include appropriate references and must undergo peer review.

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